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Partnering Singaporeans to build a caring, cohesive and confident nation

Remarks by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community And Youth, at MCCY’s Year-in-Review 2019, at *SCAPE The TreeTop

  1. 2019 has been a very fruitful year for us at MCCY. We have made good progress by working together with fellow Singaporeans. It is my pleasure today to share with you how we are: becoming a more caring people; a more cohesive society; and a confident nation with our people playing an important role in building Singapore’s future.

    A caring people

  2. First, let me share how we have become a more caring people. Almost two-thirds of Singaporeans indicated that there were enough opportunities for them to contribute towards a caring nation. This was a significant increase from 47% in 2017 to 64% in 2019.
  3. By working together with our partners, we are developing more opportunities for Singaporeans to participate [in], and contribute to a caring society. We are heartened that Singaporeans have heard and answered our call.
  4. In terms of giving, we are a generous people. 8 in 10 Singaporeans continue to donate every year. We have also seen sustained higher levels of giving to the arts and culture sector over the last few years, spurred in part by the introduction of the Cultural Matching Fund (CMF).
  5. We have made giving and volunteering easier by enhancing our digital platforms. In 2019, the number of users on Giving.sg saw an increase by 35%, to more than 220,000 users currently. Volunteer.sg now serves 31,000 volunteers, with almost a third of them added in 2019.
  6. In 2019, we also appointed 4 new Volunteer Centres (VCs). The VC is a key partnership model between MCCY and community-based organisations to grow the local volunteer pool, to help organisations strengthen volunteer management capabilities and foster collaborations between and with local stakeholders.

    A cohesive society

  7. Second, we are making good progress in building a strong and cohesive society. Last year, our survey shows that 72% of Singaporeans feel that they have enough opportunities to interact and engage with someone from a different background or belief system than themselves (Social Pulse Survey). This is a 20-percentage point increase from 52% in 2017.
  8. In our multi-racial and multi-religious society, building social cohesion must be and is a continuous effort. It requires constant tending, particularly as we face economic and social disruptions accelerated by technological disruptions and economic changes. As we have seen in many parts of the world, nationalism, nativism, and anxiety from economic stagnation have caused social unrests. This is a reminder that we must always tend to our societal needs.
  9. For Singapore to progress, we must remain open, connected to the world, and united. These require effort from all of us, as individuals and as community leaders, to affirm our model of multi-racialism and openness. We must continue to embrace our diversity, and stand strong as a cohesive society.
  10. At MCCY, we want to provide more opportunities to build trust and promote quality interactions. Through our work in the arts, heritage and sports sectors, we bring people from all walks-of-life together to build bonds through shared experiences.
  11. 8 in 10 Singaporeans have participated1 in heritage activities; and said that it has helped them to appreciate Singapore’s diverse communities and cultures.2
  12. Two-thirds of the Singapore population participated in sports at least once a week. Through our ActiveSG Academies and Clubs, more people, of diverse age groups, ethnicities, and backgrounds, are participating in more sports activities island-wide.3
  13. Beyond sports and the arts, we want our societal discourse to progress from treating race and religion as sensitive topics not be broached, to one where we can have in-depth discussions to gain better understanding and respect for one another. We believe that having good and constructive arguments will make for a more resilient society.
  14. In June last year, MCCY partnered the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) to organise the inaugural International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS). More than 1,100 attendees from 40 countries participated in this conference, including many of our local religious and community leaders. This was an important milestone for us. ICCS was Singapore’s contribution to the global conversation on social cohesion.
  15. It also provided MCCY an opportunity to bring additional perspectives to our local leaders, where they could learn how others deal with issues like prejudices, discriminations and societal unrests. Senior leaders representing the major religions in Singapore affirmed their shared Commitment to Safeguard Religious Harmony. This Commitment was a ground-up initiative and reflects the shared values and everyday practices that protect and promote our religious harmony. More than 500 religious organisations have since affirmed the Commitment.
  16. We also marked the 10th Anniversary of the National Integration Council (NIC) in 2019 through a series of engagements with key community groups, immigrant associations, local and international schools, business associations and trade unions. A key event was the NIC Convention held last August, where we affirmed our commitment to embrace diversity, encouraged integration by promoting awareness about our shared norms, and emphasised the importance of our citizenship journey.
  17. What makes a Singaporean? Is it kinship; is it the adoption of values or social norms; is it how long one has lived in Singapore? We want answers to these questions and we will partner Singaporeans to form a Citizens’ Workgroup for the Singapore Citizenship Journey (SCJ) to explore these important questions together.
  18. I am inviting Singaporeans who wish to join the Workgroup to sign-up from today onwards. It will be the start of many thought-provoking and meaningful discussions over a four-month period. We will also engage the wider public for their feedback through online and social media platforms in the next few months.

    A confident nation

  19. Finally, we have become more confident of our identity as Singaporeans and our ability to contribute towards our country’s future. Our identity gives us a sense of belonging, and anchors us to Singapore.
  20. Access to the arts and culture is vital because it gives us a common understanding, language and appreciation of our heritage. This leads to a greater sense of belonging.4 The latest Statistics5 revealed that attendance at our arts and culture events reached an all-time high of 13.6 million in 2018.
  21. In March 2019, we submitted to UNESCO “Hawker Culture” as Singapore’s first element on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. We are heartened by the strong public support from community groups, schools, corporates, and people from all walks-of-life, and look forward to the outcome of the nomination at the end of this year.
  22. Our sporting achievements give us tremendous pride as a nation. Our athletes have made us proud at the recent SEA Games. 56% are debutants, who contributed to nearly 40% of Gold medals.6 Many of the athletes have been supported by our High Performance Sports system for many years, some of them since their early teens in the Singapore Sport School. We are encouraged by this strong showing from our athletes.
  23. Team Singapore also made significant breakthroughs in several sports. Yip Pin Xiu clinched two gold medals at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships last September. Cherie Tan made history by being the first Singaporean to win gold in the Masters category of the World Bowling Women Championship last August, and became the first Asian to win the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Players Championship in September. The nation is also proud of our athletes who have ascended the world rankings in their respective sports: Nur Syahidah Alim’s world No.1 ranking in para-archery; Koen Pang the first Singaporean paddler to achieve No. 1 world ranking in the Under-18 category; Fencer Amita Berthier became the first Singaporean to be ranked world junior No.1 in foil. Singapore celebrates with them!
  24. I am also happy to share that over 80% of Singaporeans now say that they are committed to Singapore amidst challenges. This is a positive increase from 69% in 2017.
  25. At MCCY, partnership with citizens is a key element of our work, as part of the SG Together movement. We have been actively finding new ways to empower younger Singaporeans.
  26. In 2019, MCCY and the National Youth Council (NYC) engaged close to 70,000 youths through digital platforms and face-to-face sessions as part of the SG Youth Action Plan (SG YAP). Under this Plan, youths are empowered to lead projects on areas that matter to them, such as the Environment, Mental wellness, Jobs and the Future of Work. I will be announcing more details on Saturday.
  27. Another key project of the SG YAP is the transformation of this area where we are in – the Somerset Belt – as part of the Orchard Road Rejuvenation Plan. The finalised Masterplan, incorporating the views of our youths, and we have involved many youths extensively and intensively over the last few months, and culminating in this finalised Master Plan. This will be ready for announcement next month.

    Closing

  28. In summary, Singaporeans will always be at the core of why we do what we do. I have one last statistic to share: more Singaporeans – 6 in 10 – said that they want to partner the Government in working towards a better Singapore. This is almost twice the figure in 2017.7
  29. This is a very encouraging sign for us. While we have made good progress, our work must continue with Singaporeans. As we step into a new decade, we will undoubtedly face more challenges as a nation. But there will also be greater opportunities to develop the strength of character needed to care for others, to build resilient ties within and across communities, and to ignite confidence in fellow Singaporeans to participate in this endeavour together.
  30. I believe that we can – and we will – weather these winds of change if we work together, hand-in-hand, across all communities to build a stronger society.
  31. 在2019 年,文化、社区及青年部致力于通过各个领域,与国人共建一个更美好的家园。
  32. 大约三分之二的国人认为他们有充分的机会参与建立一个充满爱心的社会。这有赖于我们合作伙伴的努力,为国人继续提供机会,通过义工活动或捐款来体现他们的爱心和关怀。
  33. 文社青部致力于让来各个自不同背景的国人凝聚。百分之72的国人认为他们有充裕的机会,与来自不同背景或信仰的人交流沟通。
  34. 此外,超过八成的国人表示:无论我国面临任何挑战,他们都会为国家做出贡献。这显示国人对新加坡的发展感到自豪和认同感。
  35. 最后,大约六成的国人表示,他们愿意和政府合作,共建一个更美好的未来。在未来的日子里,我们会继续与新加坡人携手合作,塑造一个更加有爱心、凝聚力和充满自信的新加坡!

Resource

 

1 79% in 2018, as compared to 75% in 2014, participated in heritage activities within the past 12 months. (Heritage Awareness Survey 2019)

2  82% of respondents who participated in heritage activities felt that such activities increased their understanding of Singapore’s communities and cultures. (Heritage Awareness Survey 2019)

3 Since launch, A&C’s saw participation from 60,000 participants (up from 25,000 in 2017 and 45,000 in 2018) of all ages, races and backgrounds.

4 75% of Singaporeans polled agree that having a better understanding and appreciation of Singapore’s heritage and culture will increase their sense of belonging to Singapore. (Heritage Awareness Survey 2019)

5 Total attendance to arts and culture events reached an all-time high of 13.6mil in 2018 (previous high of 13.2 mil in year 2017). Non-ticketed attendance at arts and cultural events reaching an all-time high of more than 11.4mil in 2018 (11.3m in 2017). Ticketed attendance at performing arts events reached an all-time high of 2.2mil in 2018 (1.9 mil in 2017). (Singapore Cultural Statistics 2019)

6 Singapore won 167 medals at SEA Games 2019 (53gold, 46silver, 68bronze). Debutants made up more than half of the Team Singapore SEA Games contingent and contributed to nearly half (45%) of the medals won. In addition, debutants contributed to nearly 40% making this the best debutant performance among the past three SEA Games.

7 59% in 2019, up from 30% in 2017. (MCCY’s Social Pulse Survey)

 

Last updated on 17 January 2020